1949 - 2022
James Edward Lees passed away in the early morning hours of September 18, 2022 in Canmore. He had fought so hard to stay as long as he could. He wanted to live and keep living even when his body was being challenged more and more by cancer.
Jim was a very proud man and it was difficult for him to accept the fact that he needed to be in the hospital. But once there, he made the most of his days. He truly believed that a person can find happiness in the simple things in life. So that’s what he did the last few weeks in the hospital. He tried to enjoy every day. He made sure he was getting his flat white coffees from Blondies Cafe and eating pastries from his favorite bakeries. He read his newspapers and all the text messages that came in for him. He watched TV and joked around with the staff at the Canmore General Hospital. He made the most of what time he had left. Some days were more painful than others and fortunately, the staff at the hospital were there for him. They were patient when they needed to be and they were fun to be around when he needed a little joy in his day.
As most of you know, Jim was Mountain Cab. His days started at the crack of dawn and ended in the early evening. He worked seven days a week and never took a vacation. He just didn’t want to let any one down. He made sure seniors got to their appointments, students got to school and people got to work. No matter who got in his cab, he wanted to hear their story. He was sincerely interested in what they had to say and he tried to help everyone as much as he could. He was often giving people free rides and helping others pay for things that they needed. He loved his job and said it was the best job he had ever had. Yes, if we knew him, we had to listen to his views on politics and the state of the world but hey, he always got us thinking. We didn’t have to agree with him.
Jim also has an interesting story. He studied at four different universities, the University of Western Ontario, the Free University of Berlin, the University of Toronto and the University of Montreal. He received a Masters Degree in Linguistics from the University of Toronto in 1979 and did PhD course work from 1979-1982. He hitchhiked to the mountains when he was a teenager. He loved to hike and take photos. He appreciated art and dabbled in it himself. He played basketball when he was a kid and was certified as a fitness instructor. He loved to write and found everything to do with language fascinating.
Jim has requested that there is no funeral or memorial service. He doesn’t want a fuss made of his passing. He just wants his ashes spread in the mountains. Having cancer was a challenge for Jim and if he has offended anyone, please know that he meant you no harm. He just wanted to keep living. He just didn’t want to bid this world farewell